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Live zoster (shingles) vaccine, ZVL - what you need to know

All content below is taken in its entirety from the CDC Shingles Vaccine Information Statement (VIS): www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/shingles.html

CDC review information for the Shingles VIS:

  • Page last reviewed: October 30, 2019
  • Page last updated: October 30, 2019
  • Issue date of VIS: October 30, 2019

Content source: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases

Information

Why get vaccinated?

Live zoster (shingles) vaccine can prevent shingles.

Shingles (also called herpes zoster, or just zoster) is a painful skin rash, usually with blisters. In addition to the rash, shingles can cause fever, headache, chills, or upset stomach. More rarely, shingles can lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation (encephalitis), or death.

The most common complication of shingles is long-term nerve pain called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). PHN occurs in the areas where the shingles rash was, even after the rash clears up. It can last for months or years after the rash goes away. The pain from PHN can be severe and debilitating.

About 10% to 18% of people who get shingles will experience PHN. The risk of PHN increases with age. An older adult with shingles is more likely to develop PHN and have longer lasting and more severe pain than a younger person with shingles.

Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you have chickenpox, the virus stays in your body and can cause shingles later in life. Shingles cannot be passed from one person to another, but the virus that causes shingles can spread and cause chickenpox in someone who had never had chickenpox or received chickenpox vaccine.

Live shingles vaccine

Live shingles vaccine can provide protection against shingles and PHN.

Another type of shingles vaccine, recombinant shingles vaccine, is the preferred vaccine for the prevention of shingles. However, live shingles vaccine may be used in some circumstances (for example if a person is allergic to recombinant shingles vaccine or prefers live shingles vaccine, or if recombinant shingles vaccine is not available).

Adults 60 years and older who get live shingles vaccine should receive 1 dose, administered by injection.

Shingles vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines.

Talk with your health care provider

Tell your vaccine provider if the person getting the vaccine:

  • Has had an allergic reaction after a previous dose of live shingles vaccine or varicella vaccine, or has any severe, life-threatening allergies.
  • Has a weakened immune system.
  • Is pregnant or thinks she might be pregnant.
  • Is currently experiencing an episode of shingles.

In some cases, your health care provider may decide to postpone shingles vaccination to a future visit.

People with minor illnesses, such as a cold, may be vaccinated. People who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they recover before getting live shingles vaccine.

Your provider can give you more information.

Risks of a vaccine reaction

Redness, soreness, swelling, or itching at the site of the injection and headache can happen after live shingles vaccine.

Rarely, live shingles vaccine can cause rash or shingles.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

What if there is a serious problem?

An allergic reaction could occur after the vaccinated person leaves the clinic. If you see signs of a severe allergic reaction (hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness), call 911 and get the person to the nearest hospital.

For other signs that concern you, call your health care provider.

Adverse reactions should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Your health care provider will usually file this report, or you can do it yourself. Visit the VAERS website (vaers.hhs.gov) or call 1-800-822-7967. VAERS is only for reporting reactions, and VAERS staff do not give medical advice.

How can I learn more?

  • Ask your provider.
  • Call your local or state health department.
  • Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by calling 1-800-232-4636 (1-800-CDC-INFO) or visiting CDC's vaccine website.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Live zoster (shingles) vaccine, ZVL. www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/shingles.html. Updated October 30, 2019. Accessed November 1, 2019.

  • Herpes zoster (shingles) on the arm

    Herpes zoster (shingles) on the arm - illustration

    This is a picture of herpes zoster (shingles) on the arm. Shingles are caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Outbreaks of shingles follow the distribution of nerves in the skin. This distribution pattern, seen here on the arm, follows a dermatome.

    Herpes zoster (shingles) on the arm

    illustration

  • Herpes zoster (shingles) on the chest

    Herpes zoster (shingles) on the chest - illustration

    This is a picture of herpes zoster (shingles) on the chest. Shingles are caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Outbreaks of shingles often follow the distribution of nerves in the skin. This distribution pattern is called a dermatome. The linear distribution of the nerve in the skin is very easily seen in this photograph.

    Herpes zoster (shingles) on the chest

    illustration

  • Herpes zoster (shingles) on the hand and fingers

    Herpes zoster (shingles) on the hand and fingers - illustration

    This is a picture of herpes zoster (shingles) on the hand and fingers. Shingles are caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Outbreaks of shingles often follow the distribution of nerves in the skin. This distribution pattern is called a dermatome.

    Herpes zoster (shingles) on the hand and fingers

    illustration

  • Herpes zoster (shingles) on the back

    Herpes zoster (shingles) on the back - illustration

    This photograph shows clusters of blisters (vesicles) and redness (erythema) caused by herpes zoster (shingles). The pattern follows a dermatome. The area may burn or sting before the appearance of these vesicles. Early treatment with an antiviral drug (within 24 hours of the appearance of the vesicles) may prevent progression or reduce the time the infection is active (duration).

    Herpes zoster (shingles) on the back

    illustration

    • Herpes zoster (shingles) on the arm

      Herpes zoster (shingles) on the arm - illustration

      This is a picture of herpes zoster (shingles) on the arm. Shingles are caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Outbreaks of shingles follow the distribution of nerves in the skin. This distribution pattern, seen here on the arm, follows a dermatome.

      Herpes zoster (shingles) on the arm

      illustration

    • Herpes zoster (shingles) on the chest

      Herpes zoster (shingles) on the chest - illustration

      This is a picture of herpes zoster (shingles) on the chest. Shingles are caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Outbreaks of shingles often follow the distribution of nerves in the skin. This distribution pattern is called a dermatome. The linear distribution of the nerve in the skin is very easily seen in this photograph.

      Herpes zoster (shingles) on the chest

      illustration

    • Herpes zoster (shingles) on the hand and fingers

      Herpes zoster (shingles) on the hand and fingers - illustration

      This is a picture of herpes zoster (shingles) on the hand and fingers. Shingles are caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Outbreaks of shingles often follow the distribution of nerves in the skin. This distribution pattern is called a dermatome.

      Herpes zoster (shingles) on the hand and fingers

      illustration

    • Herpes zoster (shingles) on the back

      Herpes zoster (shingles) on the back - illustration

      This photograph shows clusters of blisters (vesicles) and redness (erythema) caused by herpes zoster (shingles). The pattern follows a dermatome. The area may burn or sting before the appearance of these vesicles. Early treatment with an antiviral drug (within 24 hours of the appearance of the vesicles) may prevent progression or reduce the time the infection is active (duration).

      Herpes zoster (shingles) on the back

      illustration

     

    Review Date: 11/1/2019

    Reviewed By: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 11/01/2019.

    The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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